The Return of the Condor Heroes
|The Return of the Condor Heroes is a wuxia novel by Jin Yong, and the second part of the Condor Trilogy. It was first serialized between May 20, 1959 and July 5, 1961 on Ming Pao. The story revolves around Yang Guo and his lover Xiaolongnü in their adventure in the wulin fraternity, which does not approve of their taboo love between master and apprentice. Alternate English titles are The Giant Eagle and Its Companion and Divine Eagle, Chivalric Companion.
Jin Yong revised the novel in 1970 and again in 2004. There are 40 chapters in the 2nd and 3rd revisions of the novel. Each chapter has a four-character title. Most of the revisions are either clarifications or minor alterations of character motivations.
The protagonist, Yang Guo, is the orphaned son of the antagonist, Yang Kang, of the first novel. He is raised briefly by the couple Guo Jing and Huang Rong before being sent to the Quanzhen Sect for better guidance in moral values and orthodox martial arts. At Quanzhen, Yang Guo is often picked on and bullied by his fellow students and his teacher Zhao Zhijing is biased against him. Yang Guo flees and ventures unknowingly into the nearby Tomb of the Living Dead, where the Ancient Tomb Sect is housed. He is saved by Xiaolongnü, a mysterious maiden of unknown origin, and becomes her disciple. They live together in the tomb for many years until Yang Guo grows up. After being attacked by Li Mochou, they leave the tomb and stay on the mountain. Xiaolongnü develops romantic feelings for Yang Guo and after a while, he too falls in love with her.
However, their love is forbidden by societal laws in the Confucianist society of that time. Throughout the story, their love meets with several tests, such as the misunderstandings that threaten to tear them apart and the encounter with Gongsun Zhi. Finally, after their reunion and marriage, Xiaolongnü leaves Yang Guo again, owing to her belief she cannot recover from a fatal poison, and promises to meet him again sixteen years later. While Yang Guo is wandering the land alone, he meets several formidable pugilists and a giant Condor. His adventures gradually mould him into a courageous pugilist, whose prowess matches the Greats of his age. Yang Guo serves his nation by helping the Han Chinese of Song defeat the Mongol invaders. At the end of the novel, he is finally reunited with Xiaolongnü and they are recognized as heroes.
- Yang Guo (楊過) (b. 1224) – the son of Yang Kang and Mu Nianci. He is handsome and intelligent, but unbridled and arrogant.[original research?] As a youth, he opposes societal laws and traditional customs and ideas, and is determined to marry his teacher even though their marriage is seen as equivalent to incest. After the loss of his right arm, he becomes an even more powerful pugilist than before. He roams the jianghu and earns the respect of many through his acts of chivalry and righteousness, as well as the title of “Condor Hero” (神雕俠).
- Xiaolongnü (小龍女) (b. 1220) – Yang Guo’s lover and teacher. She is a beautiful maiden independent of all worldly traits. After many years of living together, she gradually falls in love with Yang but they are unable to be together as lovers. They roam the jianghu and encounter all sorts of tests of their love before eventually being reunited as a couple at the end of the novel.
- Guo Jing (郭靖) (1205–1273) – the sworn brother of Yang Guo’s father. He is a formidable pugilist and highly respected in the wulin for his acts of righteousness and heroism. He takes the lead in the defence of the city of Xiangyang from the Mongol invaders. He dotes on Yang Guo and hopes that the boy will become a great hero one day.
- Huang Rong (黃蓉) (1208–1273) – the wife of Guo Jing. She is intelligent and resourceful, specializing in the art of laying formations and many other fields, besides being an accomplished pugilist herself. She is also the chief of the Beggars’ Sect and plays a supportive role to her husband in the defence of Xiangyang. She does not like nor trust Yang Guo initially as she feels that Yang bears an uncanny resemblance to his late father.